Cornerstone Christian School

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Education institution number:
1172
School type:
Composite
School gender:
Co-Educational
Definition:
Not Applicable
Total roll:
579
Telephone:
Address:

119 Mihaere Drive, Kelvin Grove, Palmerston North

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Findings

Significant change has been effectively managed as the school transitions to a Year 1 to 13 roll. The curriculum continues to be developed to meet the needs of all learners. Christian character and student wellbeing are high priorities. Most students achieve well. Strategies continue to be developed to more successfully accelerate the learning of some students.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Cornerstone Christian School is a Years 1 to 13 state integrated school in Palmerston North. Of the 392 students, 13% are Māori and 16% Pacific. Of the Pacific students, approximately equal numbers identify as Samoan or Tongan. The diverse identities and cultures of students, parents and whānau are recognised and affirmed. Collaboration and partnership is valued as part of promoting positive student outcomes.

The Cornerstone Christian Education Trust is the proprietor and has responsibility for the Christian character and buildings. Proprietors’ representatives take a full part on the board of trustees.

Since the November 2012 ERO review, there has been significant change.

  • The school is in the process of transitioning from a full primary (Years 1 to 8) to a composite (Years 1 to 13) school. There are currently 81 students in Years 9 to 11. Classes will extend through to Year 13 by the beginning of 2018.
  • There has been significant roll growth at all levels. An additional 140 students has led to the need for increased staff and extensive development of facilities. The new teaching spaces created include provision for a range of learning needs and extensive use of digital technology. Specialist rooms have been established and new staff employed to support implementation of the senior school curriculum.
  • The principal and assistant principals are new to their roles in the school. The principal was appointed in 2013. Assistant principals have responsibility for leading curriculum and provision of support for student wellbeing in each of Years 1 to 8 and Years 9 to 13.

Trustees and managers have a strategic and carefully considered approach to change. They ensure that the developments taking place in the school are supportive of learners. They communicate changes with parents in a timely fashion.

The Christian character is integral to daily practice. It is explicitly reflected in the school motto, Learn, serve and grow in God and to the identified values of respect, diligence, integrity, kindness and humility before God.

2 Learning

How well does this school use achievement information to make positive changes to learners’ engagement, progress and achievement?

Reference to a range of assessment information in Years 1 to 10 enables teachers and leaders to be responsive to the needs of learners. The achievement and progress of students is well known. Teachers continue to develop shared understandings of how to analyse data to strengthen their response to individual and group learning needs.

In 2015, the majority of students in the primary school achieved success in National Standards. In reading and mathematics over 80% of students were at or above expectation. Writing results were lower overall (74%) and significantly lower for boys, Māori and Pacific as groups. The recent school focus on writing, which has included extensive professional learning and development for teachers, has not yet resulted in the expected improvements in achievement.

Māori students achieve at a similar level to other students in reading. However, in 2015 their achievement was significantly lower in writing and mathematics. As a consequence, all Māori students currently below the National Standards will be deliberately targeted for acceleration in 2016.

While the achievement of many Pacific learners compares favourably with that of other groups, teachers have not been successful in progressing the learning of some students. Various initiatives have been tried in recent years, without gaining success. Further strategies have been identified and are being implemented in 2016.

Nationally standardised and school learning area assessments indicate Years 9 and 10 students are generally achieving well. A small number of these learners attempted and were very successful in National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) standards in 2015. Year 11 students will be involved in a range of NCEA assessments in 2016.

Students who are at risk in their learning are identified for focused support. Many of these targeted students make the necessary progress. More comprehensive sharing of information about successful strategies used to support individuals is assisting teachers to be more responsive to specific learners. Clearly stating expected levels for students’ acceleration and more closely monitoring their progress should assist teachers to have greater impact on their achievement. Leaders have identified increased use of year-to-year data to monitor students' progress and evaluate the effectiveness of teaching as a further next step.

A well-considered team approach effectively supports students with high learning needs. Progress is considered in relation to collaboratively developed expected learning outcomes. Parents, teachers and external agency personnel assist to identify potential next steps for these learners.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The curriculum effectively promotes and supports learning for most students.

There is a deliberate approach to developing coherent and consistent systems for planning and learning. A focus on literacy, mathematics and science is evident, but students successfully access knowledge and understanding across all The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) learning areas.

Curriculum guidelines continue to be developed to support effective teaching and learning across the extended school. Shared expectations for students to lead their own learning are in place. Ongoing curriculum development should include:

  • support for effective transition through the levels of the curriculum
  • response to the diverse culture, language and identity of students.

Teachers know individual students well. They are aware of their aspirations and supportive of their wellbeing. Students participate and learn in respectful and well-resourced learning spaces. Those observed by ERO were purposefully engaged, self-managing and able to talk about their learning and next steps.

Students are well supported to be digitally literate and use a range of e-learning tools. Staff capability continues to be built to allow effective use of information and communication technology (ICT). This is seen as important to promote the school priorities of strengthening student ownership and parent/ whānau involvement in learning.

Parents and whanau are well informed about student achievement and next steps to support their children’s learning. They are welcomed and involved in school activities and decision-making. Consultation with, and close links to the community, impact on curriculum decisions and support improvement of students’ learning.

Inclusive practice by leaders and teachers supports students and their families to participate in the school. The building of positive relationships is prioritised. Teachers and leaders should continue to extend reciprocal relationships that support learning, particularly for targeted students.

Curriculum and resourcing is in place or being developed to provide for secondary aged students as they move through the year levels. A curriculum planner indicates that an appropriate range of subjects will be available in the senior school by 2018. Some specialist classes are provided by other schools and allow access to all learning areas of the NZC. Students are involved in a range of learning programmes that enable their individual strengths, interests and aspirations to be promoted.

A strong link to vocational pathways is developing as students approach the senior secondary level. Parents are supported to participate in considering possible future education and training opportunities for their children.

Systems are in place to support students’ wellbeing needs and the provision of careers information as they move through the school. In Years 9 to 11 the homeroom teacher has a pivotal role in pastoral care and monitoring academic progress. The systematic collection of student feedback in relation to the effectiveness of wellbeing support should be a next step.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

Since the 2012 ERO review, trustees and teachers have strengthened their knowledge of practices to promote Māori success as Māori. This process has been assisted by developing relationships with local marae and the use of expertise within the school.

Aspects of te ao Māori are included in the curriculum and support Māori learners’ sense of belonging. School-wide practices reflect whanaungatanga and manaakitanga. Consultation with whānau has contributed to strengthening the way school programmes reflect New Zealand’s bicultural heritage.

Current initiatives and consultation should continue to be extended to further promote Māori students’ success. Collaborative development of an improvement plan with whānau should be a useful contributor to this goal.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

The school is well placed to sustain and improve its performance through:

  • a shared vision
  • effective governance and leadership
  • teachers’ focus on positive outcomes for students
  • established processes for conducting and using internal evaluation.

The board is committed to providing high quality education for all students that reflects both the NZC and Christian character. Trustees work with the school community to regularly review the school’s vision and values. The direction for the extended school is clearly reflected in the school charter.

Since the previous ERO review, trustees have reviewed their practices and adopted a more strategic model. Trustees are well informed about student achievement and the implementation of strategic priorities. They are future focused and take a considered approach to responding to change. Continuing improvement to trustee effectiveness is supported through ongoing training.

The principal, in association with staff and trustees, is successfully leading change. Leaders collaboratively develop and enact the school’s vision, values and goals. Effective leadership builds successful participation and collaboration at every level of the school community.

Teachers use cooperative approaches to curriculum planning and assessment well to promote student learning. Their professional learning and development opportunities are responsive to their needs and aligned with school priorities. Ongoing critical reflection and knowledge building assist in sustaining improvements to their practice.

The teachers’ and principal’s appraisal processes are collaborative and meet requirements for compliance. Performance goals are established which link to board priorities and have the potential to support professional growth. Appraisal should continue to be developed to include:

  • greater use of student outcome information, including progress in achievement
  • a stronger focus on teaching as inquiry
  • development of teachers’ competence to promote Māori and Pacific learners’ success.

Systems that promote inquiry should continue to be developed to strengthen the quality of internal evaluation. This should assist improved evaluation of the impact of teacher and schoolwide actions on student outcomes.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • processes for appointing staff
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

Conclusion

Significant change has been effectively managed as the school transitions to a Year 1 to 13 roll. The curriculum continues to be developed to meet the needs of all learners. Christian character and student wellbeing are high priorities. Most students achieve well. Strategies continue to be developed to more successfully accelerate the learning of some students.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Joyce Gebbie

Deputy Chief Review Officer Central

3 May 2016

About the School

Location

Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number

1172

School type

Composite (Years 1 to 13)

School roll

392

Gender composition

Male 54%, Female 46%

Ethnic composition

Pākehā

Pacific

Māori

Other ethnic groups

66%

16%

13%

5%

Review team on site

February 2016

Date of this report

3 May 2016

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Education Review

Education Review

November 2012

May 2009

April 2006

1 Context

What are the important features of this school that have an impact on student learning?

Cornerstone Christian School is a state integrated school located on the northern outskirts of Palmerston North. It caters for an increasing, ethnically diverse roll. Of the 252 students from Years 1 to 8, 16% are Pacific and 7% identify as Māori.

Christian values underpin the curriculum and provide a platform for building relationships with families. Recent property developments include a new administration area and library space, which extends to form a useful meeting space for schoolwide and community events. The Cornerstone Pre-school is located on the same site. Close proximity to Lalanga Mo'ui with its school-based afterschool programmes provide opportunities for staff to build links with the local Tongan community. Staff are committed to strengthening links with their Māori community.

Professional development in literacy has provided guidance for teachers particularly for working with groups of targeted students with identified needs in reading and writing.

The school is led by an acting principal pending a permanent appointment.

2 Learning

How well are students learning – engaging, progressing and achieving?

Students are purposefully engaged in learning in well organised classrooms. They respond positively to high expectations for behaviour and have opportunities to share, celebrate and support each other in their learning.

School reported student achievement data shows that most students, including Māori and Pacific, achieve at or above in relation to National Standards in reading, writing and mathematics. Students with specific learning needs are provided with good individual support. This is well documented and communicated, and linked to classroom programmes. Effective teacher-aide assistance in classrooms enables students to participate successfully in class programmes. English language learners are supported by appropriately targeted programmes.

Teachers are building their confidence in the use of student achievement data to inform teaching. Appropriate schoolwide targets are developed with teachers at the start of the year. Providing further clarity and guidance for making overall teacher judgments in relation to the National Standards should support improved consistency. Strengthening and aligning assessment practices should assist teachers to more effectively monitor student progress and the impact of teaching strategies that accelerate progress for priority learners. This should also result in clearer reporting to parents to guide students’ next steps.

Teachers are exploring ways to involve students in making decisions about and understanding of their learning. Further development of these strategies is likely to promote increased student ownership of learning.

3 Curriculum

How effectively does this school’s curriculum promote and support student learning?

The school has clearly articulated its vision and values to support its special Christian character. The notion of 'Kingdom Kids' underpins school activities and is well communicated to students. Recently reviewed curriculum statements in Christian living, literacy and mathematics provide useful guidance for teaching.

Further development of the curriculum is required to reflect needs, interests and strengths of children and the principles of The New Zealand Curriculum. Undertaking a review in consultation with students, whānau, aiga and the wider school community, should lead to provision of a more culturally responsive curriculum.

Teachers foster positive, collaborative classroom environments and establish clear expectations for learning. The use of teacher modelling and focused group teaching supports students to understand the purposes of their learning.

Teachers’ formal inquiry into teaching and learning focuses on identified school priorities. This process is building teachers’ confidence to try new approaches. Collegial groups provide opportunities for teachers to develop a common language of learning as they share and reflect on successful practices. The next step is to refine the process and build an evidence base to evaluate the impact of teachers’ actions on student outcomes. This, along with ongoing development of the appraisal process, should provide better support for teacher development.

How effectively does the school promote educational success for Māori, as Māori?

The provision of kapa haka activities is valued by students, staff and whānau. Māori students have opportunities to stand proud in their identity and learn about their heritage and culture. It provides valuable opportunities for whānau leadership, contribution and involvement.

Recently developed protocols for welcoming new families and visitors into the school demonstrate a strengthened commitment to the development of tikanga Māori in the school. Links to the local marae have been established and staff are responsive and open to building their capacity in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

School leaders acknowledge that The New Zealand Curriculum principle of Te Tiriti o Waitangi needs to be more evident in school programmes and practices. Further consultation with whānau Māori to ascertain aspirations and drive strategic direction is likely to promote further success for Māori students, as Māori.

4 Sustainable Performance

How well placed is the school to sustain and improve its performance?

Positive relationships between staff, parents and students are evident. Common beliefs and practices build a sense of community. Trustees and school leaders are committed to developing and supporting leadership. Recent changes to the leadership structure and communication processes should enable more opportunities for teachers to grow leadership capabilities and increase participation in decision-making.

Trustees are focused on improvement and positive outcomes for students. They value staff and serve the school community well. They demonstrate a considered, thorough approach to their governance roles and are establishing clear expectations, systems and processes. Reports and self review are detailed and comprehensive. The school’s strategic plan provides good direction for ongoing improvement.

Processes for self review are established and guidelines for implementation are clear. The framework includes some useful questions to examine school practices and processes. Reviews reflect school priorities, are based on relevant sources of evidence and value teachers’ perspectives. Resulting recommendations provide some useful suggestions for improvement. ERO recommends further strengthening and refining of the self-review process to focus on the impact for students, including the deliberate enactment of resulting recommendations.

Board assurance on legal requirements

Before the review, the board of trustees and principal of the school completed the ERO Board Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklists. In these documents they attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • board administration
  • curriculum
  • management of health, safety and welfare
  • personnel management
  • financial management
  • asset management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on student achievement:

  • emotional safety of students (including prevention of bullying and sexual harassment)
  • physical safety of students
  • teacher registration
  • stand-downs, suspensions, expulsions and exclusions
  • attendance.

When is ERO likely to review the school again?

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Joyce Gebbie National Manager Review Services Central Region (Acting)

7 November 2012

About the School

Location

Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number

1172

School type

Full Primary (Years 1 to 8)

School roll

252

Gender composition

Male 58%, Female 42%

Ethnic composition

NZ European/Pākehā

Pacific

Māori

Indian

Asian

African

Other ethnic groups

56%

16%

7%

6%

7%

5%

3%

Special Features

State Integrated

Review team on site

September 2012

Date of this report

7 November 2012

Most recent ERO report(s)

Education Review

Supplementary Review

Education Review

May 2009

April 2006

May 2005